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Ryndam Cruise Review by GregNVNY: Great value and high service standards


GregNVNY
2 Reviews
Member Since 2010
104 Posts

Member Rating

Cabin 5.0
Dining 5.0
Embarkation 5.5
Enrichment Activities 5.0
Entertainment 4.0
Family & Children Not Rated
Fitness & Recreation 5.5
Public Rooms 5.0
Rates 5.0
Service 5.0
Shore Excursions 5.0
Value for Money 5.0

Compare Prices on Ryndam Western Caribbean Cruises

Great value and high service standards

Sail Date: January 2011
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Tampa

My family and I had booked this cruise because it departed out of Tampa which is close to our house in Sarasota. We did not feel like driving to Fort Lauderdale. Carnival also sailed out of Tampa, but we chose Holland America for its reputation for being a bit more high end in terms of service. After checking our bags at the curb at around 1pm, one member of our party parked the car in the long term parking garage across the street. The terminal was empty as it seemed that everyone had already boarded. We went through security, checked-in and boarded in a matter of minutes.

Our cabin, DA561 was an ocean view window cabin. I considered a veranda as this was what I am used to, but the difference in price at the time of booking for three people was more than $1000. We thought we would do fine without the balcony. It worked out since the cabin had excellent ventilation and temperature controls. There was not a sign of prior smoking in our cabin. I was worried that the room would More reek of third-hand smoke but was relieved upon entering that the interior smelled completely fresh. I think that despite the fact that HAL allows smoking in cabins, most of the passengers either don't smoke or choose to smoke outside. The cabin had ample closet space for the three of us as well as luggage storage space under the bed. A flat screen TV had a few cable news and sports channels, but sometimes the audio was out of sync with the video due to satellite reception I suppose. An extensive movie DVD list was available in the room. If you want to see a movie, just call and they will deliver the DVD to you. Since the cabin is on deck 5 right below the walk-around on deck 6, you will hear some occaisonal foot steps above you but they are not bothersome. Also, sometimes you can hear talking in the hallway, but only if people are loud, which didn't happen often. If these sounds are enough to bother you at night, they can be easily eliminated by using a pair of earplugs with a NRR (Noise Reduction Rating) of 29. I just put mine in and slept without interruption each night. An added benefit of the cabin that we discovered while boarding: it is literally one cabin away from the Tampa gangway. So once you are ready to leave your room at the conclusion of the cruise, you are off the boat in seconds. My only criticism of the room was that the faucet's water pressure and temperature control. Water flow was very weak making it take a long time to rinse off hands. In addition, there was either extreme hot or extreme cold temperature to the water, no in between. And once you had the water hot and wanted it to go back to cold, it would take a good two minutes for the temp to change.

Our previous cruises were on the Celebrity Summit and Solstice so we were used to the larger ship experience. The ms Ryndam is much smaller with a capacity of about 1200 guests. I thought this would be too small and might not offer the same amenities as a larger ship. But the ms Ryndam did not disappoint. It was a comparable experience in terms of activities, restaurant offerings, fitness/spa facilities, entertainment on-board shopping and a variety of cabin categories. The point is that you are having a similar experience, it is just on a smaller scale. The value for price paid was high and the crew was as professional and passenger oriented as I experienced in my prior cruises. I found that the experience was more intimate as I was able to get to know and remember a lot more of my fellow guests as well as their names.

The Rotterdam Dining Room food was above average. There is one section of the menu that is offered on a daily basis. The other section varies from day to day. Since we were unable to obtain confirmation for early seating, we opted for Holland America's "As You Wish" open seating dining arrangement. Whenever we decided to arrive for dinner, there was never a wait and we were always seated immediately. While you don't get to dine with the same people every night and get to know one waiter, the advantage to open seating is that you get to meet more people as you are at a different table each night. On the first sea day, we opted for the Pinnacle Grill which was higher in quality and presentation. My 7oz filet was cooked perfectly and the wine combination I chose went very well with the meal. We had a seat right next to the window and viewed the sunset as our experience began. It was unforgettable.

The passengers consisted of mostly those in the 60+ age range. There were a few families with children.

Originally, the ship was supposed to call at Key West, Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman and Cozumel. However, Grand Cayman was cancelled due to poor weather conditions. While it was disappointing, I was impressed that the crew was able to adapt and have adequate activities for the unexpected sea day. An updated program was printed and distributed quickly. The ship was rocking a lot that day due to high winds.

On 1/16, we were scheduled to disembark at 9:30am but due to an announcement at 8:45am, we were advised that all passengers were permitted to leave. We left the ship at 9:05am. At this time, there was a long line for non-US citizens and the US citizen line was empty for us. Our baggage was waiting and after a few quick questions from the customs officer, we left the building. I would say it took 5 minutes from the time we left our room to the time we were at the curb with all our luggage. A very hassle free, fast and efficient disembarkation.

All in all, it was a quality experience. I hope to experience HAL's other ships one day. Less


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Cabin review: Ryndam Large Oceanview Stateroom Main 561

Since this cabin is on deck 5 right below the walk-around on deck 6, you will hear some occasional foot steps above you but they are not bothersome. Also, sometimes you can hear talking in the hallway, but only if people are loud, which didn't happen often. If these sounds are enough to bother you at night, they can be easily eliminated by using a pair of earplugs with a NRR (Noise Reduction Rating) of 29. I just put mine in and slept without interruption each night. The cabin had excellent ventilation and temperature controls. There was not a sign of prior smoking in our cabin. I was worried that the room would reek of third-hand smoke but was relieved upon entering that the interior smelled completely fresh. I think that despite the fact that HAL allows smoking in cabins, most of the passengers either don't smoke or choose to smoke outside. The cabin had ample closet space for the three of us as well as luggage storage space under the bed. A flat screen TV had a few cable news and sports channels, but sometimes the audio was out of sync with the video due to satellite reception. An extensive movie DVD list was available in the room. If you want to see a movie, just call and they will deliver the DVD to you. An added benefit of the cabin that we discovered while boarding: it is literally one cabin away from the Tampa gangway! So once you are ready to leave your room at the conclusion of the cruise, there is no line and you are off the boat in seconds! My only criticism of the room was that the faucet's water pressure and temperature control. Water flow was very weak making it take a long time to rinse off hands. In addition, there was either extreme hot or extreme cold temperature to the water, no in between. And once you had the water hot and wanted it to go back to cold, it would take a good two minutes for the temp to change.

Port and Shore Excursions


We arrived at a new and modern cruise terminal at Punta Langosta with all of the American comforts of Starbucks, Burger King and the Hard Rock Cafe. Indeed, the downtown tourist portion of the Cozumel is very much Americanized. This Mexican port is an island detached from Mexico's mainland. It is small, safe and well-policed. There are a lot of shopping opportunities just as there are in much of the Caribbean. Shop owners are eager to get you into their store, but are civil and understand when you say no or are not interested. There was a second pier at San Miguel where ferries were available for those wanting to tour attractions on the mainland, such as the ruins. We wanted to see more of the island than just downtown, so we hired a taxi to take us on a 2.5 hour island tour. For three people, the cost was $65. Basically, our driver Mario drove us around the entire island and he had some main points of interest in mind to stop at for pictures (such as Mezcalitos, Chen Rio, Playa Bosh and Paradise Beach). It was a great value to get an overview of the island for future visits. If there was a point of interest you want to make not on the drivers list, just tell them and they will go wherever you want. The drivers speak fluent English. This is definitely an island I would re-visit to spend a few days.

Read 3121 Cozumel Reviews

This was our first time in Key West. We visited the Little White House and the Ernest Hemingway House.

The Little White House guided tour was like going back in time. I gained more knowledge about the Truman Administration and the historical decisions that were made in the rooms we walked through.

The Hemingway House was equally fulfilling. There are actually two houses in this self guided tour: the residence and a small house where Hemingway did his writing. The entire property is inhabited by 42 cats that are descendants of Hemingway's original cat. All cats are free to roam the property inside and out during the day. I noticed one sleeping on an upstairs bed and one lying on a couch. Guests are permitted to pet the cats but not to pick them up. There are frequent scheduled guided tours at no charge, although tips are appreciated.

Both the Hemingway House and the Little White House are a must for first time visitors to Key West. Both landmarks are close to the dock in front of the town (where the ms Ryndam docked). Booking shore excursions to see both are unnecessary. If you are able to walk, it makes little sense to pay $19 for trolley transportation. The Little White House is just two blocks from the port and the Hemingway House is about seven blocks.

The town itself is vibrant with plenty of opportunity for shopping. If you need any sundries or last minute medications before venturing out to non-US locations, there is a Walgreens and CVS close to the port.

Read 738 Key West Reviews

When I booked the cruise, the ship was supposed to call at Falmouth but the port was changed to Ocho Rios since the construction of the terminal in Falmouth was not yet complete.

I had read all of the warnings about Jamaica on Internet travel forums regarding tourists being harassed in Ocho Rios by high pressure street vendors, verbal abuse for declining tour or shopping solicitations and petty crimes. Our on board travel guide Ron stated that once we left the port, everyone would try to be our friend with suggestions, solicitations and offers for tours. He also advised us not to bring our wallets but just our ship card, photo id and some cash.

We took the advice of that I heard time and time again: see the island by only booking shore excursions sponsored by the cruise line. We booked the Holland America's Dolphin Cove Beach Bash that included lunch and unlimited rum punch and beer. It was funny because the music was going and the two ladies were playing music and dancing trying to get us to dance and partake in drinking contests at 11:30am. But everyone seemed to just want to relax on the beach chairs, eat and enjoy the serenity. Eventually, the party girls gave up and we were left alone. There were also several wildlife displays of dolphins, sharks, iguanas, goats, parrots, snakes, spiders and cats. Swimming with the dolphins and sharks was not part of our excursion, but they were fun to watch. The Dolphin Cove itself did not have any high pressure sales for souvenirs or extra tours since they already collected a fee for admission. At the conclusion of this relaxing tour, the driver first stopped at the Taj Mahal Shopping Centre to drop off those who wanted to shop in Ocho Rios. Those who did not want to shop or walk around Ocho Rios including my party stayed on the bus and the driver dropped us all off right in front of the ship. The ms Ryndam was docked far away from downtown at the Reynolds pier. It would have been a long walk to and from the ship if one wanted to see the town independently.

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